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Countdown to Arizona Diamondbacks Opening Day: D-44, Keyvius Sampson

A potential candidate for a bullpen slot, Sampson delivered K’s and BB’s last season.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds-Photo Day Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

We asked you to rank the 40-man roster along with the 16 non-roster invitees to spring training, and every day between now and the eve of Opening Day, we’ll have a profile of one of those Diamondbacks.

D minus 44: Keyvius Sampson

  • Date of birth: January 16, 1991
  • Ht/Wt: 6’2”, 225 lbs
  • Position: Pitcher
  • Status: Non-roster invitee
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • 2016 MLB numbers: 4.35 ERA, 42:27 K:BB in 18 games, 39.1 IP for Reds.
  • SnakePit Rating: 3.48 [pattern of votes below]

After overcoming his share of teenage issues, Sampson was a 4th-round pick by the Padres in 2009, but didn’t reach the majors for San Diego. He was instead plucked off waivers in January 2015 by Cincinnati, and has reached the majors in both seasons since. He was part of the Reds rotation in August and September 2015, and made 12 starts but went 2-6 with a 6.54 ERA - though was unlucky, with a FIP of 4.76. That situation was reversed last year, when 16 of his 18 appearances came out of the bullpen: his ERA was 4.35, but his FIP 6.20. More than half the runs he allowed (13 of 24) in 2016 came by the long ball, Sampson allowing nine home-runs over less than forty innings of work.

Ironically, Sampson was DFA’d by the Reds as part of moves to make room for a couple of ex-Diamondbacks, Juan Graterol and Gabriel Guerrero. He did seem to pick up some velo with the move to the ‘pen, his average fastball in 2016 clicking up a notch to 93 mph, and coming just short of 97 mph at its liveliest. But he simply needs to walk fewer people: his career walk-rate is about 50% above major-league average, and was worse last year than in 2015. That said, he’s still relatively young, having turned 26 in January - younger than Steve Hathaway or Matt Koch, say - and is probably the kind of upside reliever we should be rolling the dice on in spring. With better than a strikeout per inning last season, the raw stuff seems to be there.

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